Cheers Cast 1.16: The Boys in the Bar

CHEERS Season 1, episode 16: “The Boys in the Bar”

Hosted by Ryan Daly with special guest Nathaniel Wayne from Council of Geeks.

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7 responses to “Cheers Cast 1.16: The Boys in the Bar

  1. Aside the pilot, I would argue this episode is Cheers’ first bona-fide classic. A gutsy topic to take on, but handled beautifully while still also being very, very funny. It realistically addresses just how progressive a bunch of barflies in 1980s Boston would be (read: not much) but also allows the characters to grow enough that we want to see them again next week.

    Also, it’s very well directed, because as the hostile in-crowd grows, we have to not notice the hangers-on so when there’s the big reveal at the end, we see they’ve been there all throughout the episode and it’s not jarring. My only extremely minor quibble: I wish we had heard Sam mention Tom again in a later episode, just so we know they stayed friends. Of course they do, but it would have been cool to see the character come back at some point, just as one of Sam’s old baseball friends.

    You mentioned Ken Tigar in this episode, but you didn’t mention he would return to Cheers, playing a different character (Diane’s professor in the ep where she writes a paper about Sam and his sexual exploits). He was one of those guys I would love to read an interview with, he’s always working and has done everything. He probably has lots of stories.

    MASH will address this topic in SSN 2, although via a different POV.

  2. Once again, the opening snippet you chose made me laugh out loud! What great timing Wendt and Ratzenberg had! I don’t remember watching this episode, but I must have, because I have always remembered the “requested a show tune” gag. I’m a show tunes kind of guy.
    For all the praise you gave this episode for the performances, and the writing, I think you overlooked something. This show treated the idea of a “gay bar” as a thing! It is taken for granted that there are gay bars, and that there are gay patrons of those bars. I believe this is significant for network television in 1983. Had there been any other show that acknowledged mainstream gay culture at that time? From your description of the show, it sounds as though the objections of the regulars were not to anyone’s sexuality, but to the possibility that their “clubhouse” might change. Carla is different, she has shown prejudice against many types previously, intellectuals, and postal carriers especially.
    BTW, at that time directly across the Public Garden from the (inspiration for) the location of Cheers, was a gay nightclub. And 3 or blocks west on Boylston St. from there was Buddy’s, another very popular gay club.

  3. I completely forgot to mention that the title is a reference to the play “The Boys In the Band.”
    he Boys in the Band is a play by Mart Crowley.[1] The play premiered Off-Broadway in 1968, and was revived on Broadway for its 50th anniversary in 2018. The play revolves around a group of gay men who gather for a birthday party in New York City and was groundbreaking for its portrayal of gay life. The play has been called “A true theatrical game-changer, The Boys in the Band helped spark a revolution by putting gay men’s lives onstage — unapologetically and without judgment — in a world that was not yet willing to fully accept them.”[2]

  4. Great episode. I was a little shocked myself at the subject matter, but what’s well-handled is that on the one hand, Cheers is a sports bar and a very masculine environment. Norm, Cliff and the others, WOULD have these opinions. On the other, the writers are clearly on the side of inclusion. That’s a very tight rope to walk when you characters don’t believe the things you do.

  5. I must say, I’m very grateful to have Nathaniel on this episode. Your point about “topic” versus “target” was excellent, and truly helps me feel more comfortable about this episode today. I think that’s a great way to distinguish handling a topic well. However, I also admit that I don’t trust myself to be an impartial judge. Am i missing something when I come to that conclusion? Is my own upbringing and biases glossing over some distasteful handling? In a nutshell, I *think* I’m sensitive to such concerns, but I’m self-aware enough to realize I can’t be sure. That’s where having viewpoints of others is invaluable, and Nathaniel provided that admirably. Thank you, my friend.

    Whew! OK! Got that out of my system. Yes, I loved this episode! Sam’s growth was wonderful, and the barflies were hilariously dumb. Which comes to another thing about TV comedies. The funniest characters are not acting as role models, or mature, or smart, or enlightened. That’s the nature of these shows. If the characters were all smart, there’d be no conflicts or misunderstandings. So yes, I love the gang at Cheers, but I don’t aspire to be like them, if you see what I mean.

    Well done, gentlemen.

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